A review by Rebecca Fleming
Release date: November 2013
Format: Digital download (PSN) and physical cart
Other platforms: NA
Price: ~$35 AUD
I got this game in a bundle with my Vita console for $199 at EB Games on New Year’s Eve, mainly because the other games available in the bundle didn’t interest me at all and my other friends who own Vitas said Tearaway was a fun and unique game. They weren’t wrong.
In Tearaway, you control a little character called Iota (male) or Atoi (female) as you make your way through a world made of paper to deliver a message to the Sun (which is your face, captured by the Vita’s front camera). On your way you collect confetti, dispatch nasty critters called Scraps and open presents.
You can also collect Papercraft models by taking photos of objects or creatures that have lost their colours; this restores their colours and also gives you a downloadable model of the character so you can print it out and create the character out of paper in real life. Most adults probably won’t bother with this but it’s an extra little bit of fun for younger players.
One of the most interesting aspects of Tearaway is how it makes use of the unique Vita controls. Some places require you to tap the back touch pad to bounce objects, while others require you to swipe the screen to peel away parts of the environment, or to tilt your Vita to move certain platforms. There are also points in the story where characters ask you to create objects using scissors and coloured paper.
Sometimes you will have the opportunity to take photos with your Vita and see them incorporated into the paper world (as a result, there are a lot of pictures of my dog scattered through my save file). Rather than feeling gimmicky or unnecessary, all these aspects combine to make it feel as if you really are reaching in and interacting with this charming little paper world.
There were a few small things that disappointed me a little. The first was how short the game was; I think I finished the main story in 5-6 hours, though if you go back and get all the collectibles you miss (and there are some you can’t get until you acquire new abilities later in the game), it will take you considerably longer. Secondly, the enemies in the game have very little variety, and the battles with them don’t really get more challenging; all that happens is you have more of the critters to fight at once, so it just takes longer to get rid of them all. Mostly this didn’t bother me since you can still dispatch them all quite quickly, but towards the end of the game I did find myself sighing a little when the music signaled that another Scraps battle was imminent.
If you’re only interested in getting through the levels and don’t care about 100% completion, the game is fairly easy for the most part (it does get a bit more challenging in the last third or so of the game). You don’t really ‘die’ in Tearaway; instead, if your character is hit by an enemy while its health is already damaged or if it falls off a cliff, it simply turns into an envelope and flies back to roughly where you were when you died. However, if you want to get all the trophies and find all the collectibles, the game becomes a lot more challenging, with some of the trophy requirements being a nightmare to beat (eg. getting through extremely difficult terrain without dying) and some collectibles being very hard to get to.
Tearaway’s world of brightly coloured paper shapes is beautiful to look at. The music is also quite catchy and really adds to the atmosphere of the game; upbeat and haunting in all the right places and a joy to listen to in its own right (lots of violins). I often found myself humming it after I’d put down my Vita. I was also surprised by how much I formed a connection with my little Atoi. While the game started off quite cheerful, it did take a bit of a gloomy turn near the end and, without spoiling anything, the end was slightly bittersweet.
I absolutely adored Tearaway and consider it to be one of my favourite handheld games. If you own a Vita, this game needs to be in your collection.